Harnessing the potential of transmedia narratives for critical multimodal literacy

Emilia Djonov, Chiao-I Tseng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Literary narratives have long been recognised for their power to foster engagement with complex social and cultural themes. Transmedia narratives, which present the same story in different media, can help advance both critical multimodal discourse studies and multiliteracies pedagogies and research. To harness this potential of transmedia narratives, we need to develop methods for examining how different semiotic resources contribute to the construal of semantic patterns and social themes when the same story is presented in different formats, and ensure these methods build on the knowledge learners bring to the classroom. This article presents a social semiotic method for systematically relating media affordances to discourse-semantic patterns and the broad social themes these patterns construct in literary narratives. We illustrate the method, including its ability to highlight the persuasive power of narratives, and its suitability for building on the critical multimodal awareness of young children, through a case study comprising data from three adaptations of the award-winning narrative The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr Morris Lessmore – animated film (Joyce, W. (Producer), Joyce, W., & Oldenburg, B. (Directors) (2011). [Motion Picture]. Moonbot Studios), interactive picture book app (Moonbot Studios. (2011). (Version 1.4). [Mobile Application Software]), and traditionalformat picture book (Joyce, W. (2012). Illustrations by William Joyce and Joe Bluhm. Moonbot Books) – and interactions involving 16 mother–child dyads reading the story in its book and app versions.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCritical Discourse Studies
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 30 Jul 2020


  • social semiotics
  • transmedia narrative
  • critical multimodal studies
  • critical multimodal literacy
  • children

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